Happiness is Fleeting (And I’m Good With That)

by thethreepennyguignol

I’m pretty happy at the moment.

Not ecstatic or anything – the litter trays still need cleaned, the bins have to be taken out, there are dishes in the sink. But, broadly, I’m doing pretty well; it’s nice. The sun’s out, my plants are thriving, my mum is visiting next week. A pal is coming in from another city for lunch on Monday. Nothing dramatic, but pleasant contentment, and it feels lovely.

Happiness is always something I’ve struggled with – not just in terms of actually feeling it, but being able to allow myself to enjoy when I do. My anxiety has been one of the dominating factors of my life for as long as I can remember, and that comes with the delightful added bonus of, even when I’m happy, dealing with the crushing dread that it isn’t going to last.

Because it won’t. It’s just that simple. Something’s going to happen to change it, whether it’s a big thing or a collection of little things or nothing at all but the chemicals in my brain misfiring. For the best part of the last twenty years, every time I have felt this kind of happiness, or even something more, it’s come with the looming shadow of losing it. Happiness as a state of mind is inherently not the status quo, and that means, every time I feel it, I’m holding my breath waiting for something to wreck it.

I want to cling on to happiness with everything I’ve got, and that, in delicious irony, usually serves to take it away from me. When texture starts showing up in my life again, something other than the lovely smooth softness of joy, I feel like I’m failing, losing control, as if the happiness could never have really meant anything because it’s already slipping away.

It’s hard, because I do know I won’t always feel this way, and it’s so easy and so tempting to allow that to swallow the happiness I feel when I feel it. Anxiety is essentially a constant run of what-ifs in various flavours, and those potential futures come creeping into the present to infect whatever kind of life you’re trying to live. Even now, as I write this, I’m intently aware that what I’m feeling won’t last, and it feels like the reality of it is just sapping it away even faster.

And I don’t want that. Just because something is fleeting doesn’t mean it isn’t real – just because I won’t always feel this way doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy it while I do. A lack of happiness in the future – a potential lack of happiness, even – doesn’t undo happiness in the moment. “Living in the moment” feels like a trite way to describe it, because my anxiety never going to allow that to happen entirely, but I want to be able to acknowledge whatever’s coming, bad or good, and not let it change the way I feel now. The dread is a fiction that may or may not turn out to have any basis in fact (though, to be quite honest, rarely does) – the actual happiness I have in my hands right now is real.

I’m pretty happy at the moment. That’s going to change, eventually. But I’m still happy right now, and nothing can touch it.